Conference Poster

The Reality of Refuge: How can we adopt a more humane response to a humanitarian crisis?


The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that there are over 79.5 million people forcibly displaced globally. Among them are almost 26 million refugees. When 1% of the worlds population has been forced to flee their homes due to conflict or persecution, the issue is undeniably urgent. Unfortunately, these situations are not short term. The United Nations estimates that the average refugee will spend 17 years in a camp. Data from the UNHCR and literature by members of the field are used to gain a comprehensive understanding of the nature of both planned and makeshift refugee camps, why they are temporary and what makes up their physical and social fabric. This knowledge is applied to perform a descriptive and critical analysis of existing refugee shelters and camps designed from both top-down and bottom-up approaches and the consequences of each. By using existing research and documentation observing and analysing how residents appropriate their surroundings to better suit their individual needs, the discrepancy between the actual needs of refugees and the needs which are currently fulfilled by existing responses is exposed. Existing theory is used to assess the capacity of architecture to redefine the refugee crisis through design in order to achieve more socially sustainable, long lasting alternatives. An architectural approach, based on the assumption of permanence, which understands the importance of addressing social, cultural and psychological needs, as well as immediate physical requirements, is the foundation of conceiving of an alternative, humane refugee camp.

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Pevsner, Ava

Oxford Brookes departments

School of Architecture
Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment


Year: 2021

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